Post-holiday debt is real. Between all the gifts you have to buy for friends and family, the decorations to celebrate the most magical time of the year, and the food you make and consume, your credit card bills can seriously add up during the holiday season. Once you ring in the new year, you might find that you’ve been left with a little more holiday debt than you expected. However, it’s not the end of the world! Most people spend more than they expect during the holiday season.
Any debts you have incurred during the holidays can be paid down using a solid plan you set up with yourself. So if you have spent a bit too much this holiday season, keep reading!
Why Does Post-Holiday Debt Occur?
Post-holiday debt occurs when you spend more than you actually have during the holidays. Most of the time, post-holiday debt is on credit cards when you make purchases that you don’t have the money to pay off immediately. Not all post-holiday debt is detrimental–many people plan to have some post-holiday debt and then pay it off in the following few months. However, if your debt has spiraled out of control, it may be more difficult to manage than you initially thought. In this article, we’ll list some of the best tips to help you overcome this post-holiday debt and pay it off completely.
Tips to Pay Off Debt
Now that we’ve talked about what post-holiday debt is and why it happens, we can talk about ways in which you can actually pay off this debt. There are many ways to pay off debt, but we’ve listed eight of the most popular and effective ways below. We will talk about completing each of these steps to help you reduce or pay off your debt fast.
Don’t Spend More Than You Have
The first tip might be less helpful if you have already incurred a lot of debt, but it’s a good thing to keep in mind when holiday shopping in the future. Only spend what you currently have in cash or a bank account! As soon as you put more money on credit cards than you already have saved away, you have basically eliminated your opportunity to pay your credit card down to zero at that current moment. Once you pass that threshold, it makes it much easier to incur more debt that’s difficult to pay off. Therefore, keep track of how much you have in cash and try only to spend that amount.
Pay Off Debt Early
This might seem obvious, but the sooner you can pay off your debt, the better! As debt accumulates and your credit card holds a high balance, interest charges on purchases can start racking up and place you into a vicious cycle of being unable to even get out of debt. So the quicker you can begin to make large payments against your debt and bring your credit card balance back down to zero, the better off you’ll be when trying to get rid of your post-holiday debt.
The snowball method for paying off debt is a great way to go if you have many different smaller debts. In addition, the snowball method helps you get excited about paying off debts because the progress can be seen immediately. The process for the snowball method is this:
- list out your debts in order from smallest to largest balance.
- Make the lowest possible payments on everything on the list except for the smallest balance; pay off as much as you can on that one.
- Once the smallest one is paid off, take that balance and start paying off the next smallest one, going down the list until everything is paid off in full!
New Year’s Resolutions
Use your New Year’s Resolutions to help you cut down on spending and pay down your debt to $0. Every year, we tend to make New Year’s Resolutions about how we can improve our financial lives and achieve more (“I’m going to buy a home,” “I’m going to make better investments,” etc.). However, you should try to use your 2023 resolutions to make better strides toward paying off your debt. For example, make one of your resolutions, “I will contribute an extra $100 (or whatever amount works for you) every month to paying down my debt,” or “In 2023, I will stop using my credit cards until my debt is paid off.”
Budget Better, Cut Down Spending
Everyone knows that the primary purpose of a budget is to incur less unnecessary spending and save money for the things you need or want. However, there’s one surefire way your budget can work better for you in terms of cutting down and paying off your debt. You need to eliminate spending on things you don’t need and instead put that money toward your credit card payments. For example, if you’re used to going to Starbucks every morning, this is the kind of habit you need to cut back on. You’ll see substantial changes fast if you start contributing that $5 or $6 you usually spend on fancy coffee toward your credit card bill!
Consolidating your debt can also be a good option for eliminating your post-holiday debt, as long as you follow the proper steps. For one, you could get a debt consolidation loan to have all your payments in one place and on one day of the month. Another option for consolidating your holiday debt is to transfer all the balances of your credit cards onto one card with a higher limit to reduce your overall credit utilization percentage and have an easier time paying it off.
Leverage Your Tax Refund
Tax season is coming! Pretty soon, you’ll be able to submit your 2022 taxes and see what kind of tax return you’ll be getting. If you’ve been keeping good track of your money, you might already have a rough estimate when it comes to that nice check you’ll be getting from the government. If you can afford to put your tax refund toward paying off your credit card debt, definitely choose to leverage that opportunity!
Paid Online Surveys
One way to get some debt out of the way is to take online surveys for cash. Surveys have become an incredibly popular side hustle in recent years. This is primarily because they can help you earn money in small increments 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Sites like Branded Surveys connect you with institutions, brands, and researchers who want to hear your personal opinions and reviews. The way they accomplish this is to offer online surveys for money.
For the most part, these surveys can earn you $.50 to $2 for every survey you complete, and every cent of that can help you contribute to and pay down your holiday debt. While there are plenty of other side hustles out there, you can get paid to take surveys whenever you have a few minutes to spare, making it a super-convenient way to earn some money.
Don’t Want Holiday Debt? Try Not To Incur It
This is easier said than done, but the most essential thing to consider during the holiday season is this: don’t sacrifice your financial well-being for a few extra presents at Christmas. The best gift you can give is spending time with friends and family and showing love to those around you. Instead of incurring debt to make that tree feel fuller, focus on quality over quantity.